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General Poe's Smith & Wesson M39 U.S. Air Force Semi-Automatic General Officer's Pistol
This Model 39 features an early-type long extractor. The pistol was presented to General Poe in 1969, and the custom grips, which feature the four stars of his rank, inlaid U.S. Air Force seal, and inlaid unit seal, were made for General Poe's retirement in 1981.
General Bryce Poe II, U.S.A.F., was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1924. He attended both the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, and the University of Kansas at Lawrence before enrolling in the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he graduated as a member of the Class of 1946. Prior to graduation, he also completed Army Air Forces pilot training. Between November 1946 and September 1948, he was assigned to one of the first jet-equipped units in the U.S. Air Force and flew demonstration and performance routines at numerous air shows.
His next assignment was with the 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in Japan, where he flew RF-80 jets. At the outbreak of the Korean War, he transferred to South Korea and flew 90 combat missions, including the first U.S. Air Force jet reconnaissance sortie. After rotation to the United States, Poe was assigned to Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas as a member of a Strategic Air Command fighter escort squadron. In April 1951, he took command of a reconnaissance replacement training unit at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.
In August of the following year, he became a fighter operations officer with Allied Forces, Northern Europe at Oslo, Norway. During this assignment, he flew a variety of fighter aircraft with the Royal Norwegian and Royal Danish Air Forces. After a four-year tour in Norway, Poe returned to the United States in July 1956, where he spent the next three years serving first as an aide and then as executive officer to General B. A. Schreiver, Commander of the Air Force Western Deployment Division in Inglewood, California. He entered the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia in August 1959, and graduated in January 1960. His next assignment was as operations officer of an Atlas D missile squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
While serving at Strategic Air Command headquarters between October 1961 and August 1964, first as a missile plans officer and then as Chief, Missile Plans Section, Operations and Training Division, he earned his Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Omaha, Nebraska. In August 1964, Poe entered the National War College at Fort Leslie J. McNair, Washington, DC. After graduating in June 1965, he served as Chief, Plans Group, Office of Legislative Liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force in Washington, DC. During this tour, he also completed a Master of Science degree in International Affairs at The George Washington University.
In July 1967, he returned to Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas as Vice Vommander of the 75th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. One year later, he became Vice Commander, 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, where he flew 213 combat missions. Between July 1969 and July 1970, he commanded the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Following this assignment, he became Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics, U.S. Air Forces-Europe at Wiesbaden, Germany.
After serving as commander of the Ogden Air Materiel Area (presently Ogden Air Logistics Center) at Hill Air Force Base, Utah from February 1973 until June 1974, General Poe returned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany as Vice Commander in Chief, U.S. Air Forces-Europe. Following this tour, he served as Commander, Air Force Acquisition Logistics Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He became Commander, Air Force Logistics Command at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in February 1978, at which time he also received his fourth star. General Poe retired on July 31, 1981 after serving on active duty for 35 years.
Among his many awards and decorations are Command Pilot's Wings, Master Missile Badge, Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with 19 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Presidential Unit Citation emblem with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon with Oak Leaf Cluster, Korean Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two Service Stars, Air Force Longevity Service Award with eight Oak Leaf Clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, and various foreign awards and decorations from South Korea, Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Nations.